5 August 2009
Press Association National Newswire

Here is a timeline of the key events since Madeleine McCann's disappearance.


  • :: May 3 - Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, leave their three children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz while they dine with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant. Nothing is amiss when Mr McCann checks on the youngsters at just after 9pm, but when his wife goes back at about 10pm she finds three-year-old Madeleine missing. Jane Tanner, one of the friends eating with the McCanns, later reports seeing a man carrying a child away earlier that night.
  • :: May 5 - Portuguese police reveal they believe Madeleine was abducted but is still alive and in Portugal, and say they have a sketch of a suspect. 
  • :: May 14 - Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese man Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an "arguido", or official suspect. Officers also search the home he shares with his mother in Praia Da Luz, just 100 yards from where the youngster was snatched. 
  • :: May 25 - Detectives finally release the description of the man reported by Jane Tanner three weeks earlier following pressure from the McCanns, their legal team and the British Government. 
  • :: May 30 - Mr and Mrs McCann meet the Pope in Rome in the first of a series of trips around Europe and beyond to highlight the search for their daughter. 
  • :: August 6 - A Portuguese newspaper reports that British sniffer dogs have found traces of blood on a wall in the McCanns' holiday apartment. 
  • :: August 11 - Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, investigating officers publicly acknowledge for the first time that she could be dead. 
  • :: August 31 - The McCanns launch a libel action against newspaper Tal and Qual over a front-page story which claimed police believe they killed their daughter. 
  • :: September 7 - During further questioning of Mr and Mrs McCann, detectives make them both "arguidos" in their daughter's disappearance. 
  • :: September 9 - The McCanns fly back to England with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie. 
  • :: October 2 - Goncalo Amaral, the detective in charge of the inquiry, is removed from the case after criticising the British police in a Portuguese newspaper interview.
  • :: October 9 - The case is taken over by Paulo Rebelo, a senior detective with Portugal's investigative Policia Judiciaria normally based in Lisbon.
  • :: October 25 - The McCanns release a new artist's impression drawn by an FBI-trained expert showing the man described by Jane Tanner. 
  • :: November 1 - Mr McCann returns to work as a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital. 
  • :: December 22 - Mr and Mrs McCann send a public message to their daughter, telling her: "Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again."
  • :: February 4 - Portugal's top detective, Alipio Ribeiro, says in a radio interview that police were "hasty" in making Madeleine's parents suspects in her disappearance. 
  • :: March 19 - Mr and Mrs McCann accept £550,000 libel damages and front-page apologies from Express Newspapers over allegations they were responsible for Madeleine's death. 
  • :: April 7 - Three Portuguese detectives, led by Mr Rebelo, fly to Britain to re-interview the seven friends on holiday with the McCanns when Madeleine vanished. 
  • :: April 10 - Speaking in Brussels, Mr and Mrs McCann call for a Europe-wide missing child alert system. But this is overshadowed by a leak of the couple's first police interviews, which reveals that Madeleine asked her mother on the morning before she vanished: "Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?" 
  • :: April 26 - In an interview for a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Mr McCann says he believes his daughter is still "probably alive" and that there is "absolutely zero" evidence to suggest otherwise. 
  • :: April 30 - An ITV documentary reveals that the McCanns almost decided against leaving their children behind when they went out on the night Madeleine disappeared. 
  • :: May 3 - A tearful Mrs McCann urges people to "pray like mad" for Madeleine as she and her family mark the first anniversary of the little girl's disappearance. 
  • :: July 17 - Mr Murat receives £600,000 in libel damages from four newspaper groups over "seriously defamatory" articles connecting him with the child's disappearance. 
  • :: July 21 - The Portuguese authorities shelve their investigation and lift the "arguido" status of the McCanns and Mr Murat. 
  • :: July 24 - Mr Amaral publishes a book about the case, entitled The Truth Of The Lie, in which he alleges that the young girl died in her family's holiday flat on May 3. 
  • :: August 4 - Thousands of pages of evidence from the Portuguese police files in the exhaustive investigation into Madeleine's disappearance are made public. They reveal details of the lines of inquiry pursued by detectives, witness statements and scores of previously unknown sightings of the little girl.
  • :: January 13 - Mr McCann returns to Portugal for the first time since coming back to the UK without his daughter. 
  • :: January 29 - Nearly £2 million was raised for the official fund to find Madeleine in the first 10 months after she went missing, Companies House accounts show. 
  • :: March 24 - The McCanns launch a localised new appeal for information focused on the area in the Algarve where Madeleine disappeared. 
  • :: April 4 - Mr McCann goes back to Portugal to help film a reconstruction of the events on the night his daughter vanished for a new Channel 4 documentary. 
  • :: April 22 - The McCanns fly to the US to record an interview with celebrated chat show host Oprah Winfrey to mark two years since Madeleine's disappearance.
  • :: May 16 - The McCanns announce they will sue Mr Amaral over comments he made in the media. 
  • :: May 22 - It emerges that British convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett is being investigated in connection with Madeleine's disappearance. 
  • :: May 22 - Goncalo Amaral is convicted of perjury and given an 18-month suspended sentence by a court in Portugal. 
  • :: May 28 - It is reported that Hewlett has given a DNA sample to police after West Yorkshire detectives investigating an incident from 1975 requested the sample. UK-born Hewlett, a former soldier who previously lived in Blackpool and Telford, is said to have been staying around an hour's drive from the McCanns' holiday flat when the little girl vanished. 
  • :: June 10 - Final attempts by private detectives searching for Madeleine to interview Hewlett, who is being treated in hospital for throat cancer, fail. Negotiations between retired UK policemen Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley and Hewlett's German lawyer break down.
  • :: June 13 - Hewlett insists he has never seen Madeleine other than in posters and on television. It is reported he is discharged from hospital by doctors who say there is nothing more they can do for him. 
  • :: August 3 - It is revealed British police have spent nearly three quarters of a million pounds looking into Madeleine's disappearance. Leicestershire Police costs for 2008-09 were £196,756 which, when added to the 2007-08 figure of £548,477, takes the total to £745,233.

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